Intel may signal whether demand is returning for technology companaies

Intel Corp. (INTC) is scheduled to report earnings after the close of U.S. markets today. Its results may signal whether demand is returning to the technology industry.

Although the world's largest semiconductor chip maker is expected to report lower sales and earnings when matched up against those same numbers from a year ago, some analysts are expecting Intel to beat consensus estimates.

Already six analysts have raised their first-quarter earnings estimates in the past month on Intel, according to Zachs Investment Research. On average, the 34 analysts polled by Zachs expect Intel to earn 3 cents a share for the quarter, which ended March 31. Intel has beaten analyst expectations in three of the last four quarters.

Revenue for the quarter is expected to drop 28 percent from Intel's first quarter a year ago, according to a consensus survey by Thomson Reuters.

Investors will be watching Intel's results today to see if demand increased for the company's chip products, including the Xeon 5500 server chip, which shipped during the first quarter of 2009.

Whether Intel beats or misses estimates on its sales and profit numbers may indicate whether technology companies are set to rebound from a drop in consumer demand for products like PCs and cell phones in the first quarter.

Intel also trades among the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 30 stocks and could help move the average on Wednesday, following the earnings results and conference call with investors and analysts on Tuesday afternoon.

With investors betting that Intel will beat expectations, shares have risen 8.8 percent over the past month and 17 percent over the last three months.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. He previously covered technology companies for Bloomberg News.
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